As I’ve mentioned on this blog before, I am not great about working out and, when I do commit to it, I prefer doing classes because the external accountability keeps me on track.
Of course, with shelter-in-place and self-quarantines abound, the scant classes I was attending are no longer an option to me. So many fitness studios and individual instructors have made workouts available online, via YouTube and Instagram Live and IGTV and more, and I’m really grateful for it! However, I do feel overwhelmed by the choices that are available to me! Do I try dance fitness? Or a HIIT (high intensity interval training) class? Maybe boxing? Yoga??
It’s been a bit too much, which is a convenient excuse for me to just do none of them. 🙃
I’m learning a bit about what kind of home classes I like doing. For example, I don’t like spending so much time on Instagram, so the plethora of amazing classes on IG Live or IGTV don’t appeal to me as much. Live classes are still helpful for me because the external accountability of being on time and going through a full class help. (Although I will be honest and admit that I have just stopped partway through a too-hard tabata class, I’m grateful that I can work out with my camera off.) I’ve also had some success following along with YouTube workouts when I am looking for a specific type of workout, for those truly rare occasions when I actually know what I want.Read More »
Back when I was setting my New Year’s Resolutions for the year, I really wanted to take my fitness resolutions more seriously, as they are pretty consistently the resolutions I take the least seriously and, as a result, see the least amount of progress on.
I set 3 concrete fitness resolutions and follow-up resolutions:
Learn to lift + lift a certain weight once I did
Run a mile without stopping + get that mile within a certain time
Do a full split + both vertically and horizontally
We are almost halfway-through the year, so it is time for me to get to the point of looking at the follow-up resolutions and check in on my progress. While these resolutions have not been the primary focus of my short-term fitness goals, I have been doing really well with making fitness a regular weekly habit for myself since January and I really do have to thank ClassPass for it.
ClassPass is a monthly membership that gives you access to many, many boutique fitness studios and gyms in over 30 cities around the world. It’s great specifically if:
… you want to try out classes at a boutique studio or using the equipment at a gym but don’t want to commit to a membership fee without knowing if you like it
… you would rather go to many different studios and gyms throughout the month than commit to one kind of workout or one facility
In celebration of that “new year, new me” mentality, ClassPass was running a promotion in January: 50% off their usual $55 for 5 classes deal, which meant I got 5 classes a month for $27, with each class being just a little over $6, for 3 months. That’s an awesome deal, so I went for it, hoping that 3 months was enough time for me to form a habit.
Long story short, I think this was one of the better moves I’ve made with my time and money in a really long time. I’ve found studios and classes that I really love. With my ClassPass plan, I’m able to visit a studio 2 times within a month, so I’m able to switch it up while still visiting my favorite workout spots twice a month. It’s added something to my routine and I am seeing physical results. There are little baby pre-muscle bumps on my legs and my arms that weren’t there at the beginning of January, and I cannot tell you how exciting that is!
I won’t mince words: it was, and remains, really hard. I knew that the only time I could regularly commit to working out was in the morning before work, since my post-work schedule varies wildly but usually is filled with other activities. To give myself enough time to work out in the mornings meant I was choosing 7AM classes, which still kills me many mornings. The pain was also intense. I was going from being quite sedentary to working out 1-2 times a week (and up to 4 or 5 times a week some weeks), and that was extremely painful. I felt sore soresore and the hardest class for me was my first session at a local kickboxing gym where I do high-intensity interval training (HIIT). Because it was so painful for me to just walk out of that gym, on top of the several days where I was so sore that it was difficult to bring food to my mouth, I have made that kickboxing gym one of the spots that I visit twice a month, every month. It’s one of my shortest workouts at 30 minutes and I love it loads.
One thing that has helped with the amount of soreness and reducing my recovery time from days to singular days is consuming protein powder. I know, I KNOW, I hardly recognize myself right now. But there are a lot of fitness and weight-lifting enthusiasts in my office, and I overheard one of them suggesting increasing another person’s protein intake upon hearing that the other person was taking a long time to recover from muscle soreness. I figured it wouldn’t hurt, and whaddya know, I am not feeling as sore for as long. (In fact, sometimes I am suspicious that I’m not working out hard enough because I am not feeling as sore as I did those first 4 weeks I started working out.)
On top of my 5 fitness classes a month, I am also trying to take advantage of the gym in my office building that is available to me free of charge! Especially during weeks that I only have one fitness class scheduled, I’ll try to make time to go to my building gym (again, at 7AM), and lift weights and then run on the treadmill. I’m going to be honest: I never have a real plan when I lift weights. This is a problem that I think may be remedied by me investing in a trainer, as was my original plan back in December, but right now I do essentially every exercise I know I can do with dumbbells and that takes me about 40 minutes. Then I run for about 20 minutes. I move up to heavier dumbbells when the ones I usually use are not on the rack. That is maybe not the best reason to increase weight but that’s what I do!
This is really uncharted territory here. I now own grippy socks and boxing handwraps, because my favorite classes are barre and kickboxing. (?!) I have a tub of protein powder in my pantry. I am increasingly finding myself in the unfamiliar dilemma of needing more workout clothes because I really don’t do laundry frequently enough to get by on how much I have currently.
And I like working out. That is maybe the most bizarre thing to me, but I look forward to my workouts. It’s a time when I am too busy trying to keep myself alive to worry about the myriad of other things I concern myself with usually. Exercise keeps me too physically busy to be anxious. It becomes an almost meditative experience, that I’m able to be so focused on physical activity that my mental activity has to take a backseat.
I’m not expecting to be swole (despite how much I joke about it). (It is maybe not funny how many times I now utter the word “swole” out loud.) I am still in that stage where I talk about my working out pretty often because I’m still in a state of shock that I’m doing it and I kind of need to vocalize it to confirm that it’s really happening. There are weeks where I don’t work out as much as I know I should and I’m still struggling with problem areas on my body that need more attention. I need to really get serious about weight-lifting if I want to set certain weight goals there to reach by December, and that will require me to do something different from just… all the dumbbell exercises I know. I also need to get more serious about running and flexibility.
But I think I like this new version of myself that is exercising and investing time and money and energy into my health. And I hope I like her enough to keep investing in her and making her better.
How do you stay in shape? The studios I have favorited are barre, kickboxing, and yoga. I am a creature of habit, which means I’m actually having a hard time trying out any new classes, so if you’re in the DC area and have specific studios to recommend or you just have a workout to recommend in general (I keep seeing Bodypump pop up!), let me know!
Do you like group fitness or doing your own thing at the gym more? I really love group fitness, because I think the peer pressure of a bunch of strangers really keeps me on track and helps push me a bit farther than if I were just working out on my own. I don’t like working out with friends very much because I know I’m not in shape and I fear judgement from people I know and care about. I am getting better about working on out my own at the gym, but my biggest source of anxiety there is just running into coworkers. This social pressure is all in my head, I know, and I am getting over it little by little as I get stronger, little by little. I also tend to not push myself quite as hard and, of course, not have a particularly good comprehensive workout plan when I am on my own.
With spring kicking off in March, I have a rather long post for you all this month. Lots of good things going on is a good sign, right?
7 Minute Workout [App]
I’ve been trying to find ways to make it easier for me to commit to fitness. Right now, I’m really enjoying the 7 Minutes app (I use this one on Google Play, but there are many that have slightly different UIs and several available on iTunes as well). I picked this one over some other popular ones (like Nike’s N+TC) because I don’t need any equipment for the exercises as 7 Minute uses only body weight exercises.
If you’re unfamiliar with tabata or circuit/interval training, the default 7 Minutes workout involves 13 different workouts that you do for 30 seconds each with 10 seconds of rest in-between. The science backing this workout says that intense bursts of activity followed by shorter intervals of rest are super effective in working your muscles, and you’re able to maximize the benefits of exercise in only 7 minutes.
As someone who often has a hard time committing to fitness regimens that aren’t a paid-for group class, finding 7 minutes to do something, no matter how painful those 7 minutes may be, seems much more doable than doing half an hour of exercise three times a week. I am trying to do as many days in a row as I can without taking breaks while completing one circuit, since the app tracks how many days in a row you’ve done the exercises, how far into the exercises you got, how many times (if any) you paused, and how many days of exercise you’ve done in the past 30 days. If you’re a fan of the “Don’t Break the Chain” method of forming habits popularized by Jerry Seinfeld, you’ll love that feature.
(Images from Google Play store)
Along the same vein, my boyfriend and I recently decided to give fitness trackers a try. Not wanting to commit a lot, we found one of the most affordable options out there: the Misfit Flash, which is a lower-end tracker made by the folks who also make the Misfit Shine. The tracker itself is whatever to me: it’s made of cheaper materials but gets the job done and has an option for you to clip it or wear it on your wrist.
The app is what I like. The UI is really nice, although I wish the Android one was as nice/robust as the iOS one. I can connect it to RunKeeper, for the handful of times I decide to run, and MyFitnessPal, because I understand that being aware of what I eat is really important to my overall fitness.
You earn “points” for your physical activity (so mostly for walking, as it counts your steps) and I like the social element if only so I can compete with my boyfriend. One thing I also like is that it shows how you rank with the average males/females using the app. “Missfit” is on my leaderboard and I think that’s a neat feature.
Also, we really wanted to look into sleep tracking. I used a sleep tracking app, but I don’t like keeping my phone on my bed, so this is a nice alternative. It has issues as far as not being able to track naps, not tracking if you wake up and go back to sleep, if you have irregular sleep hours, etc., but it’s a nice way to get more data about my sleep habits. And I’m all about dat data.
(Images from Google Play store)
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt
I usually don’t watch super trendy shows (see: Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, Mad Men, etc.), usually because I don’t know about them when they premiere and then because I feel like I am being peer-pressured to start watching it. (Looking at you, Doctor Who and the Tumblr propaganda that eventually got me to watch.) This definitely applies to Netflix shows, because I don’t really like the idea of sitting down and binge-watching a season of a show the day it is released to the public. (See: why I don’t watch House of Cards despite the fact that, as a show about DC, I have friends who can be seen as extras.)
When Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt was announced a short while back, I fully intended to not watch it. I like Tina Fey (the producer) and all, but I didn’t watch 30 Rock, I’m not a die-hard Tina Fey fan, I don’t feel anything about Ellie Kemper or Jane Krakowski, the premise was quirky but not enough where I felt really compelled to watch it… I just didn’t really have any motive to watch. But then I heard that Ki-Hong Lee was on the show… as a love interest, no less! I love Ki-Hong (his smile takes over his whole face… and yours) and I am all for Asian male love interests.
So, I sat down to watch the show and really liked it! It’s 30-minute episodes, which made the 12-episode season much more digestible than shows where the run-time lasts closer to an hour. It’s a light-hearted comedy, which meant that I was able to breeze through episodes not only without being stressed and tense for the next one but while laughing as well. It’s definitely a bit too edgy/quirky for television and perfect for the Internet. It’s super self-aware and smartly written. I recommend it if you’ve been wondering about this show.
Even though it snowed half a foot the first week of March (… you think I’m joking), the weekend immediately following that storm gave us our first taste of spring weather. I had my windows open! The snow thawed almost immediately and left immense puddles everywhere! I went outside in jeans without a pair of leggings underneath them!
Cleaning my room has been on my to-do list for a while. When I started getting overwhelmed with my many tasks, I would feel worse about the fact that my room was messy and I hadn’t cleaned it yet. This would drive me into a guilt spiral that was further aggravated by the fact that I can’t actually stand messes. Evidently, my method of coping with a mess is usually to be driven so mad by it that I am reduced to doing… nothing, about the mess or anything else in my life.
But, on this beautiful Sunday afternoon, a breath of fresh air gave me the kick I needed to actually clean. I told myself I would only clean my room and save cleaning the rest of the apartment as a roommate activity, since I don’t get to see my roommate too often. But as soon as I broke out my vacuum, I wound up vacuuming the entire apartment and wiping down almost every surface. Oops! I even (finally) took down my Christmas lights that were in a Christmas tree arrangement and rearranged them in a non-holiday way, as I’ve always liked the look of rooms with soft fairy lights.
Now I walk into my apartment and my room and feel so at peace rather than irritated and angry at myself. It is one fewer obstacle to me actually doing things I need to do. This doesn’t mean I do those things, but I have one fewer excuse now.
With the shift in the weather and a desperate need to do something productive, I have been enjoying cooking even more than I usually do. Not only have I been cooking, I’m cooking less familiar foods. This includes:
Pancakes from scratch and not from a mix! (I almost never have flour and this is my first time having baking powder in the pantry)
Ridiculously fluffy pancakes
Mickey Mouse pancakes!
Mac & cheese with cheese sauce from scratch (I had to purchase cheese???)
Scallion pancakes from scratch
No photos to share this time around, but let me know what you’d like to see me make in the future!
“Chinese Female Bodyguards”
A friend of mine shared this VICE video on Facebook and I soaked up every single one of its 12 minutes. Because of the absurdly fast-growing Chinese upper class, which includes many powerful businesswomen, there is a growing demand for female bodyguards. Not only is it more practical and safe for women to have a female bodyguard, but having a bodyguard is, in and of itself, a status symbol, and the Chinese upper class is obsessed with displaying status symbols.
It resonated with me, personally, because the women are taught “feminine” things such as walking in heels and putting on makeup. This is not because they need to be “more feminine”, but rather, in China, wearing heels and makeup is a way to demonstrate your respect of other people. In this case, the trainees want to show respect to their clients and their clients’ colleagues.
Also, since assault weapons are illegal in China, bodyguards must be highly skilled in martial arts. We’re not talking Jet Li The Bodyguard from Beijing level skills, but those would be really helpful because bodyguards cannot legally carry weapons. (Side note: That is my mom’s favorite Jet Li movie and it’s a good one.)
The movie is from 1994… and it shows. But I love it.
Late Night Happy Hours
I am all about happy hour for one main reason: excellent food deals. In fact, I am really baffled by people who only drink during happy hour? We’re in his bar from 6-8 and you don’t want to eat food? But you had lunch hours ago?
Anyway, what I’m really into right now is late night happy hours, since happy hour can be harder to coordinate in the DC area with folks living in Maryland, the District proper, and Virginia. A Friday night late night menu special is perfect for those situations. I went to the one at City Perch two Fridays in a row and really like the food. The service is another story but the food and drink specials are SUPER GREAT. I have definitely found myself suggesting this as an option more than once to my friends. This is a time in my life when I can really take advantage of the fact that I am more of a night owl, as I’ll only start wanting to sleep at 8 PM more and more as I get older.
I’ve been working on this post all through March and it’s hard to believe how long ago watching Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt or stress-cleaning my entire apartment feels now.
April is shaping up to be jam-packed with lots of fun, and it’s BEDA so you are going to have random things to read whether they’re quality or not!
What were your highlights from March?
What are you looking forward to in April?